Arizona Senators attempt to defend their actions…..poorly

Here is a recent Arizona Republic editorial by Senators McCain and Kyl, followed by a letter-to-the-editor response from Rob Smith of the Sierra Club:

Parks’ noise rules at Canyon went too far

Grand Canyon, Arizona. The canyon, created by ...

by John McCain and Jon Kyl – Jul. 21, 2012 12:00 AM

Our Turn

For over 100 years, people have found different ways to experience the magnificence of the Grand Canyon. Some spend weeks rafting down the Colorado River, while others are content with viewing a fraction of the Canyon’s landscape from man-made overlooks on the South Rim.

Many visitors choose to hike the Canyon, but its challenging trails aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, air-tour operators offer a unique sightseeing experience that’s invaluable to elderly and disabled visitors — including our wounded warriors — who may not otherwise be able to fully explore the Canyon.

The 1987 Overflights Act was intended to restore the park’s “natural quiet,” and we’re proud that today the Grand Canyon isn’t buzzing with the same free-for-all air traffic as it was then.

Regulations were created that tightened air-tour routes, created flight-free zones across much of the park’s airspace, and raised the altitude ceilings for aircraft. Air-tour companies also took the initiative and voluntarily installed $200 million worth of noise-reduction technology in their aircraft. Indeed, the National Park Service has already exceeded the original goal it mandated of making more than 50 percent of the park free of aircraft noise.

Regrettably, the new Park Service plan would have threatened this progress, arbitrarily moving the “natural quiet” goal post from 50 percent to 77 percent of the park and banning tours around sunrise and sunset. This would have deprived many visitors the chance to experience one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. That’s not what Congress intended when it passed the 1987 law, and it’s not justifiable today.

We share the Park Service’s goal of protecting the Canyon, and we have legislated a balance that was already achieved, as well as provided additional incentives to increase the use of quiet-aircraft technology.

We waited 25 years for the Park Service to develop reasonable standards, and when they failed to do so, it was time to act. The stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon will be shared among many Americans in many ways, just as it is today, ensuring that everyone has maximum opportunity to enjoy its full majesty.

John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Republicans, represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

McCain, Kyl back aerial clatter at Canyon

Jul. 24, 2012 12:00 AM

How sad that Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl would say that visitors to the Grand Canyon should hear air-tour noise instead of the park’s natural quiet (“Parks’ noise rules at Canyon went too far,” Opinions, Saturday).

They say listening to helicopters and airplanes once every four minutes where most people visit is fine. And that’s supposedly the “quiet” half of the park.

And they say early-morning and evening hours should be times of aerial clatter, not magnificent stillness and calm.

And, to top it off, they blame the National Park Service for moving slowly when they themselves have led several congressional attempts to stall the agency from solving this problem for nearly 25 years.

Thanks to The Republic for speaking up for the Grand Canyon (“Congress bungles noise restrictions,” Editorial, July 5). I wish that voice could be heard by our senators above the commercial air-tour noise at the Grand Canyon.

Thanks to the Grand Canyon River Guides Association for this info.


Flagstaff Colorado River Days

Colorado River Day is the brainchild of Save the Colorado and Protect the Flows, organizations that are trying to keep healthy flows in the Colorado River and raise awareness of Colorado River issues and threats. Check out how this fun and educational event is shaping up in Flagstaff (July 24, 25, 27, 28 & 29) at:

Colorado River Days in Flagstaff is going to rock! Major cosponsors include Sierra Club, Museum of Northern Arizona, National Parks Conservation Association,

English: The Colorado River near Page, in Ariz...

and Grand Canyon Trust. GCRG will have a table at the July 24th kick off, along with many other organizations.

Events throughout the week include a kickoff at Heritage Square with tables and presentations by Colorado River-oriented groups and government agencies; the song contest; premiere of the new film Watershed by the Redford Center ( with a panel discussion at Museum of Northern Arizona; and this year’s Grand Canyon author symposium at MNA. All details can be found on the URL in the first paragraph of this email.

1) Attend any and all of the events and help spread the word! Celebrate the river you love!
2) The organizers are looking to schedule more “teach in” type talks at Heritage Square on July 24th. These would be 20 minutes in length. They are looking for storytellers and fun topics to spice things up. If you are interested, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Alicyn Gitlin of the Sierra Club.

Thanks to the Grand Canyon River Guides Association for this information. If you love the Grand Canyon you should be a member of the GCRGA


Dynamic Video Series on how our Public Lands are being used for Personal Gain: Public Lands, Private Profits

Watch this series of videos and let your friends know about them. What is ours is being stolen to line personal pockets.

Public Lands, Private Profits.” Share with your students.


Discussion to Focus on Status of American Conservation in 2012

Washington, D.C.On July 11, CAP will premiere “Public Lands, Private Profits,” a series of mini-documentaries about three areas hel

d in the public trust that raise questions about where industrial development of our lands may take place, and where it is not appropriate. Some of the country’s best places like Yellowstone National Park and Muir Woods National Monument have already been preserved for future generations to enjoy, but others remain without protection.
Participants in this event will discuss how conservation fits into an overall progressive approach to land management and how Congress, President Barack Obama, and the next administration can work to make sure that our matchless American icons are truly protected from development and managed for values like hunting and fishing, recreation, clean air, and clean water.

Colorado River Protection Coalition Intervenes Against Flaming Gorge Pipeline

Friends of the Poudre River!

Please see the press release below. We are working hard with great coalitions to protect the Poudre River as well as stop the ridiculous Flaming Gorge Pipeline. Please see Save the Poudre’s quote below:

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would be a flaming disaster for Colorado,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “The Pipeline would be a devastating step backwards for water supply policy and river protection in Colorado and the Southwest U.S. — our coalition will work as long and hard as it takes to stop this project.”

Thank you for your amazing support!

For Immediate Release, December 15, 2011

  1. McCrystie Adams, Earthjustice, 303-623-9466
  2. Steve Jones, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 307-332-7031 ext 12
  3. Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, 928-310-6713
  4. John Spahr, Sierra Club, 307-732-0028
  5. Gary Wockner, Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, 970-218-8310
  6. John Weisheit, Living Rivers – Colorado Riverkeeper, 435-259-1063
  7. Zach Frankel, Utah Rivers Council, 801-699-1856
  8. Duane Short, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, 307-742-7978
  9. Warren Rider, Rocky Mountain Wild, 970-385-9833
  10. Jane Whalen, Citizens for Dixie’s Future, 435-635-2133
  11. Michael Kellett, Glen Canyon Institute, 801-363-4450

Colorado River Protection Coalition Intervenes Against Flaming Gorge Pipeline
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Should Not Waste Resources On Unbuildable Scheme

Denver, CO – Today a coalition of 10 conservation groups from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona — the Colorado River Protection Coalition — moved to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) review of the Regional Watershed Supply Project (a.k.a., the “Flaming Gorge Pipeline”). FERC is currently evaluating a preliminary permit application for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline from Wyco Power and Water Inc. FERC allows members of the public with a stake in projects to intervene in preliminary permit proceedings, and the Colorado River Protection Coalition, represented by Earthjustice, has called upon FERC to deny the permit on numerous grounds.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would be one of the biggest, most environmentally damaging water projects in the history of the western United States,” said McCrystie Adams of Earthjustice, the Coalition’s lead attorney. “The Pipeline would devastate the Green River, one of the West’s last great rivers and a sanctuary for native fish and wildlife, and severely harm the Colorado River downstream.”

In its intervention comments, the Colorado River Protection Coalition asserted that the Flaming Gorge Pipeline is extremely unlikely to be permitted because it would likely violate the Endangered Species Act, would adversely affect four national wildlife refuges, and part of the project would be located in a U.S. Forest Service roadless area. The Coalition also argued that the permit should be denied because the applicant failed to meet various requirements during a previous attempt at permitting a nearly identical project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the Coalition asserted that the Pipeline is an extremely environmentally damaging water supply project that would irrevocably harm the Green and Colorado Rivers, not a “hydropower project,” and thus FERC is not the appropriate agency to lead federal review of the proposal.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would severely harm the Wyoming landscape it crosses,” said Steve Jones of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “Our state’s heritage, wildlife, and economy are dependent on protecting roadless and wilderness areas.”

“Four endangered fish — the Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker, and bonytail chub — are dependent on the water this pipeline proposes to drain out of the Green and Colorado Rivers,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity in Flagstaff, Arizona. “The pipeline would spell disaster for those fish and the river ecosystems we and they depend on. It’s a foolish proposal in the face of global warming and projected declines in river flows.”

“The Green River flows through Utah’s largest roadless area, provides 40 percent of the water entering the Colorado River at Lake Powell each year, and supports a world-famous trout fishery averaging 6,000 – 8,000 fish per mile” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council. “This catastrophic proposal would not only mar these treasures, it would forever alter life in Utah.”

The applicant previously sought a permit for the Pipeline from a different federal agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). In July of 2011, the Corps terminated its review of the project because the applicant missed multiple deadlines and did not provide information requested by the Corps. A few months later, the applicant redesigned the project to include some incidental hydropower components and requested review through FERC. Despite the modifications, the project remains a huge energy hog — at least nine air-polluting natural gas-fired pumping stations would be required to pump the water uphill across Wyoming and over the Continental Divide. Wyco’s president has acknowledged that pumping the water uphill would use more energy than the project would create through hydropower.

“We know this project would burn more energy than it produces,” said John Spahr of the Sierra Club. “Claiming it is a hydropower project is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to make an end-run around federal law.”

Since its inception, the extremely controversial Flaming Gorge Pipeline has met with great opposition in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The water would go to the Front Range of Colorado which is projected to double in population in the next 50 years. Colorado is already a parched state with severely depleted rivers while the majority of the water in Colorado’s cities is used to keep lawns green for three months in the hot, dry summer across sprawling suburban landscapes.

Duane Short of Biodiversity Conservation Alliance noted, “The Coalition believes that Colorado and other western citizens are beginning to realize that unbridled consumption of water from our rivers and aquifers will leave our precious water resources depleted leading to even more severe water shortages for our children and grandchildren. We hope the public will work with us to prevent this shortsighted and irresponsible water grab.”

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would be a flaming disaster for Colorado,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “The Pipeline would be a devastating step backwards for water supply policy and river protection in Colorado and the Southwest U.S. — our coalition will work as long and hard as it takes to stop this project.”

This Coalition’s intervention is one of several being filed by public interest groups and local communities. Over a hundred public comments urging FERC to deny the preliminary permit have already been filed before the Dec. 19th deadline. Comments are posted on FERC’s website here: (search for Docket Number: P-14263).

The Colorado River Protection Coalition’s comments are posted here:

A map of the pipeline’s proposed 550 mile route across Wyoming and down through Colorado is here:

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